Thursday, October 22, 2009
NHL 2K10 on Wii
We cover a lot of hockey here, and I thought I would offer this writer's opinion on one of the newest hockey video games, NHL 2K10 on Wii from 2K Sports.
I have owned previous NHL titles, the last EA version being the infamous NHL 2005 for PC. That one had some compelling management options, but absolutely no create-a-player. After that I switched to 2K's offerings on Xbox (original), buying 2K6 and 2K7, both reasonably fun, but neither stupendous.
Fast-forward three years, to me buying NHL 2K10 for Wii.
Opening the box, one finds that the game's manual is short and shallow. It (briefly) explains the control scheme for different options such as Wii-mote, classic controller, etc. The game purports to work with Motion Plus, the peripheral that supposedly offers true 1:1 motion sensitivity.
Unless the user changes the default settings, using the Motion Plus controller makes forward passing impossible. It is possible to score, but you must revert to 1920's NHL rules, using only back-passes a la rugby in order to advance up ice (all while the CPU has no such handicap). After changing the settings to allow slightly more modern passing, the next stumbling block with Motion Plus is getting the game to acknowledge shots. Players will watch as their point men reach back for a slap shot, hesitate, bring their stick down, reach back again, drift backwards past the blue line, and either hopefully go offsides or have the puck stolen for a breakaway. The game's manual only states to hold the B button while swinging the remote in order to shoot (while using Motion Plus). Users will struggle and ultimately fail to decipher whether they should release B upon making the shot, or hold B while following through, or some combination of only tapping B during the wind-up or follow-through.
In short, Motion Plus does not work with the game.
Users will have better success without Motion Plus, but the experience will be just as frustrating. Using only the remote, poke checking is done by thrusting it forward. Unfortunately, if a your poke-check is successful, you will also shoot the puck to the other end for an icing call, as shooting is also done by simply swinging the remote. And, as there is no Motion Plus to tell the subtle difference between a thrust and a waggle, the Wii remote thinks it is doing both.
Or neither. Should your poke-check be unsuccessful, which seems to be the case most of the time, be prepared to watch the opposing player zip right around your defender to score an easy goal.
Sliders have always been a great way to customize a sports game to suit a player's comfort level. The sliders in NHL 2K10 are sparse, and ultimately useless. The only slider to adjust your own effectiveness in the defensive zone is for body checks. And anyone who has played hockey videogames knows that body checks are a hit/miss-by-a-mile proposition. Sweeps, poke checks, and stick lifts are much more effective, but there is no such slider to adjust HOW effective they are in this game. And at every difficulty level, that effectiveness is irrevocably set to "Not very damn much."
The most damning aspect of the game is its tendency to lock up. You'll hear music skip as the console tries to log in, watch the curser bounce erratically over the screen as it struggles with hit detection on menu bars, and you'll lose games. After setting my lineup and playing a season-opening game, the system locked up as it tried to return to the menu. After re-starting the system, I discovered that all my progress had been lost. This issue plagued last year's Wii iteration, and it is inexcusable for it to exist for a second year.
After two days, this $50 game and the $20 Motion Plus attachment went back to the retailer, who finally agreed to take them back after a lot of arguing.
Spare yourself the headache, and the heartache of a bad game. If you own only a Wii, I feel your pain, as I'm in the same boat. This was my only chance to see Koivu and Kovalev in a Habs jersey once again. If you are fortunate enough to have a PS3 or 360, I hear EA's offering is pretty decent.